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Unsilencing the Past: How Oral Histories Give Voice to Black and Latinx Students at Southwestern University

Thu, April 18, 8:30 to 9:45am, Hotel Monteleone, Board Room

Session Submission Type: Panel

Abstract

The Southwestern University Racial History Project is a growing archive that collects the stories of Indigenous, Black, and Latinx students, faculty, staff, and alumni. In the past year we have started collecting oral histories in order to give voice to marginalized student populations whose stories and contributions to the university have been silenced. This Panel will explore this process through four papers focusing on different stages of this work. 1) Dr. Melissa Johnson will discuss the foundational history of the university and the founding of The SU Racial History Project. 2) Dr. Naomi Reed will discuss the liberatory potential of oral histories and why this particular ethnographic method is key to unsilencing the voices of the oppressed at a predominantly white institution. 3) Rose Reed will introduce and discuss her oral history of Lynette Philips–a Black woman who attended Southwestern University between 1980-1984, played basketball for the university, and was very active on campus. 4) Kalista Esquivel will discuss her oral history of Eva Mendiola–a Mexican-American woman who attended Southwestern University from 1972-1975. She founded the volleyball team which was the first women’s sports team on campus. Through our work building this archive we demonstrate not only the necessity and value of the social sciences, but also the liberatory power of ethnographic data collection when unsilencing the past.

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